Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Voice Artists, What Would You Do For The Perfect Take?

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

February 5, 2009

Comments (14)

Blue acoustic guitarWhen you get ready to do a voice over recording, what lengths do you go to in order to get the perfect take?

I asked some of my friends on Twitter and I couldn't believe how far (and how unplugged) some people go to make a simple voice over recording.

Want to know what they said? Read on!

Voice Over Recording = Sacrifices

Recording voice overs takes a great deal of discipline, even sacrifice.

A voice artist may forgo any number of things to prepare their instrument for a performance such as drinking coffee, tea or eating dairy products for the sake of keeping their voice in good form and good tone.

Some go to bed early, preserve their voices by not screaming or shouting, and others have periods of silence where they won't speak at all and that's just sacrifices made on behalf of the voice!

This morning, I thought it would be fun to ask my pals on Twitter whether or not they turned their heaters or air conditioners off while recording voice overs to minimize and or eliminate external noises in their studio.

When I'm recording the VOX Talk podcast the heater is always turned off. During a Canadian winter that isn't the most appealing thing to do, but everyone suffers for their art, right?

I wanted to see if I was the only one, and by golly, you'd be amazed by the number of appliances that get unplugged, animals shooed into the furthest room possible and zany things people will do to get the perfect take.

I know I was.

What Some Voice Artists Do Before Recording

Kara Edwards, a voice artist in Tampa Bay, Florida related, "Yes, I turn everything off. Even though I can't hear it in this new studio very well I don't like taking the risk. My checklist includes heat/AC off, studio monitors off, phone off, appliances off, dog, eh, relieved... let's go!"

Linda Ristig in Washington, DC faces a number of challenges when she sets out to record in her studio but has found plenty of ways to turn what some may see as hurdles into clear sailing. Linda shared, "I turn off heat, phone, fax, and (this is the biggie) make sure our two dogs are in the furthest room away from my studio!"

But wait, there's more.

Linda added, "I also should mention I live with a husband and three sons that are car crazy! When they 'tweak' or work on the '69 GTO or the '72 Corvette, or even the new Mustang, they seem to need to make the engines louder! We now have a new understanding, if I let them know I'm about to record, they'll take a 30 minute break. I've learned to edit ProTools with the engine roar coming from the garage!"

Voice artist Niel Sumter in the Northeastern United States, offered, "I turn off my heat. I have a space heater, and the audible humming does get picked up."

Amid the clamoring to turn off all noise making agents, one voice artist in Miami Shores, Florida, Doug Turkel, swims against the current, opting to actually turn ON his air conditioning. Mind you he is blessed to have a recording booth with silent fans, noting rightly so that, "I'd suffocate without it."

Voice artist Arlene Kahn of Chicago, Illinois says, "I don't (turn off heaters / AC). I do have a humidifier running in the room. I needed to set it on high when it got down to single digits. On high the mic picked up the sound, on low it didn't, so I had to adjust the setting."

What Do You Do For The Perfect Take?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Stephanie

P.S. If you click on any of the voice artists' names above, you'll be taken to their Twitter pages. If you click here, you'll be taken to mine. Follow!

Image via natmeister's photostream on Flickr

Related Topics: agents, Alex Ninamori, Arlene Kahn, audio recording, booth, Chicago, Doug Turkel, Kara Edwards, Linda Ristig, Miami, United States, voice acting, voice artist, voice artists, voice over, voiceovers


Comments


    When recording at home, I always turn off the A/C or heater. Living in Israel, turning off the A/C in the summer is a sacrifice, but "Ya gotta do what ya gotta do".
    Of course, one should always be grateful when there IS an A/C. A few years ago, I recorded at a tiny little studio with no A/C, middle of the summer, and I got locked in the booth. The booth became a sauna. The studio technician ended up breaking the door to get me out!

    Posted by:

      When recording at home I turn off AC, have the phone turned off, the beer fridge and I remove the batteries from the clock on the wall - loud ticking! Since I don't have a sound booth, it works for me. :)

      Posted by:

        Hi Steph - yes! I even make sure all the windows are closed. Is that getting too paranoid or just perfectionism?

        Posted by:

          I do turn the bathroom extractor fan off. Does that count? Also the washing machine and dishwasher on the floor above!

          Posted by:

            I too have a "ritual" before an ISDN session. As a matter of fact, I actually used to have a checklist that I went thru, but now I know it by heart. I make sure:

            - all phones in the house are muted, but one phone is next to me so I can see if someone calls
            - cell phone off
            - in summer, a/c is CRANKED... it gets way too hot in my studio without it
            - both doggies used to be put on the pool patio, but one of my dogs is somewhat ill and it attached to me at the hip, so I just take off his collar so he doesn't "jingle" during a session. He lays on the floor next to me. The other, who is a pup at heart and a barker, goes on the pool patio.
            - make sure I have a big glass of room temp water
            - make sure I have a small glass of apple cider

            I used to also have a laminated sign I would put on my front door that said, "Shhh.... Please do not knock or ring the doorbell... I'm in a recording session. Thank you!" b/c I have some neighbors that like to visit. But, I've not used it in a some time, actually.

            :)

            Posted by:

              Oh, yes, Stephanie, it was a hoot to read your Vox Daily today, considering it had a small slice of my real-life voice over readiness attempts embedded within its text! I imagine just about everyone has to get ready for recording in a way that works for them. Since there are five family members in our home, the line of communication has to be very clear as to when I'm recording. That often means I have to track everyone down to give them the message. But...just as I'm ready to record right now, the mailman is delivering the mail to everyone's doorstep! Can you hear every dog in the neighborhood carrying on? I can! By keeping a sense of humor about me, and abandoning the recording session for the moment seems the best course of action. Besides, my family will be happy to know that I'm choosing to fix dinner, instead of hanging out with my microphone and laptop!

              Posted by:

                I close the windows (this is fine in winter, but hot in summer!); try not to record around 5 p.m.ish -- that's when peeps are heading home and cars come down the street one after the other; I put my mobly under my pillow in the bedroom down the hall (I have a muppets ringtone for my hubby, and the song has been known to find its way into a recording if he calls while I'm working; of course I then have to start over!); and of course I have my water and Entertainer's Secret at the ready.

                cheers...
                :D

                Posted by:

                  With a four year old in the house, I not only have to turn off appliances, I also have to make sure I remove all of those toys that are supposed to make noises only when you press a button, but seem to go off at the slightest atmospheric disturbance...

                  Posted by:
                  • Vance Moody
                  • February 6, 2009 8:40 AM

                    It's fun to hear what others do.
                    Being in chilly New England, I crank the heat first thing in the morning and do paper work until the house it toasty warm. Then I turn the thermostats down and voice (so the heat won't kick in). Around lunch I have to crank it back up and repeat the process...I try not to think of how much oil I waste by doing this.
                    Also, no cheese or milk till I'm done voicing for the day.

                    Posted by:

                      Personally each day I have a ritual of exercises for warming up the voice, throat and body . It's "show prep" as usual.

                      No heat or a/c while recording. The blower vent is directly above my isolation booth. The booth is not sound proof. Anything that I can control that's potentially a noise intrusion is dealt with prior to turning on the mic. Even the more silent things like fans on in other rooms can sometimes affect recordings. My mic can pick crumbs off the floor. (heheh) Then there are the frustrating items I cannot control; Mondays are trash truck days in the neighborhood. UGH! My next door neighbor has a couple of large dogs who like to vocalize too, and I am located right in the flight path of helicopters flying several times per day between Miramar and Camp Pendleton Marine bases.

                      All in all, everything works out. I might take a bit longer to get things done at times, but consistently delivering a quality recording is paramount.

                      All The Best,
                      Bobbin Beam- Voice Actress

                      Posted by:

                        Hello Stephanie,

                        I've read some pretty funny stories thus far...and thought I'd add my own.
                        -For my son's 17th birthday, I took him to a Metallica concert. I did a lot of "fist pumping," but did all I could to NOT yell & scream. (My son has good taste, they're a very good band---very tight!)

                        -When recording in my in home studio, in a finished room in the basement, the heat's turned off (in the house), NO laundry can be done, and I even need to turn off the overhead florescent lights (a horrible hum comes from 'em). That's why I installed overhead track lighting--for use while recording!

                        -Oh, yeah....my dog "Motown" needs to be crated, too! (clickety-clack on the kitchen floor above my studio)

                        What a fun subject, thanks Steph!
                        -JC

                        Posted by:
                        • JC Haze
                        • February 6, 2009 10:19 AM

                          Before moving into my current studio I had to turn off the A/C in summer. But the heat was supplied by portable electric "oil" heaters. They look like little radiators with a power cord. They are silent.

                          Recently I discovered a little buzz... it turned out to be my computer monitor, which had never made noise before. I had reduced the "brightness" on it a day or two earlier. When I boosted it back to its old setting, the buzz went away! Old dogs, new tricks...

                          Posted by:

                            Hi Stephanie,

                            The one sound that gets through into the isolation booth is the doorbell on the second floor.

                            We kept getting "we missed you" notes from Usps, Ups and Fedex (do they really ring the bell?). So fed up with receiving these things, my wife bought a gargantuan decibel busting door ringer.

                            Fortunately, it's not hardwired so you can unplug it, which is exactly what I do before a session.

                            Occasionally, I forget to plug it back in........

                            James
                            British Voice Talent

                            Posted by:

                              I try to remember to close the door. It is usually so pretty here that the door to my office/studio area stays open most of the time.

                              And now that the ceiling is inuslated, I don't have to do the chill down routine with AC and the floor fan. In winter, I do have a small radiant heater that has a random "ticking" sound. But I wait until I hear it usually before turning it off. So no real routine there.

                              Not much you can do about the trash trucks, or the lawn mower/blowers, or the alley elves, or the helicopters chasing bad guys into the canyons. But those are usually temporary and easily worked around. Of course, the SECOND you start recording one of those things usually happens and there will be a short delay in recording.

                              Wait, I do have one regular thing - if I am in my ISDN studio, I ask that the toilets not be flushed.

                              Posted by:

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